Samuel Gompers and the
Formation of the American
Federation of Labor 1881-1924
Samuel Gompers
•Born England 1850
• 1863 to NYC
•1864 Cigarmakers Local
15; 1875 Local 144
•Federation of Organized
Trades and Labor
Unions 1881
• American Federation of
Labor 1886
George Meany Memorial Archives, Gompers, Box 2, Folder 8, negative #91
Cigar “Reader”
LABOR’S Heritage,
• Photo of Cigar
“Reader” In Tampa,
Florida, 1924
• Gompers’ smaller
factory but similar
learning situation
• Wide-ranging
newspapers, novels,
economic pamphlets
• Gompers had little formal schooling
but had an education at cigar
• Gompers had wide reading in
economics, literature, history, and
political science
• Gompers stressed craft autonomy &
• Gompers was wary of government
programs fearing that what was given
could be later taken away
• Gompers supported Allied War effort
in World War I and worked closely with
President Woodrow Wilson
• Gompers a delegate to Paris Peace
Gompers, Box 2 folder 2, neg. # 1673
Representatives of the Pan-American Federation of
Labor, the Mexican Federation of Labor, and the AFL
El Paso, Texas, October 1924
•Gompers died
December 3, 1924
only weeks after
this photo
•Santiago Iglesias
(front row far right)
was long-time AFL
organizer and key
labor figure in
Puerto Rico
Gompers Collection, Box 2, Folder 14, Neg. # N1866

Samuel Gompers and the Formation of the American Federation of